MARTOR no. 28 / year 2023

Magical Objects, Magical Writing: Amulets Across the Ages

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Hajnalka Tamás
“Babeș-Bolyai” University, Romania
ORCID: 0000-0002-0985-2862

Hajnalka Tamás, PhD (2014), is Teaching Associate at the Department of Classical Languages and Literatures, “Babeș-Bolyai” University, Cluj-Napoca (Romania). Her research focuses on Late Antiquity and the formation of Christian identity in its various facets.

PAGES: 241-245

KEYWORDS: Amulets; gemstones; speech acts; magical writing; representations of deities; isopsephisms.


This note focuses on recent discussions on gemstone amulets from Late Antiquity through insights offered in two contributions to the volume Textual Amulets from Antiquity to Early Modern Times: The Shape of Words (Theis and Vitellozzi 2022). After a general presentation of the volume, I turn to the first two chapters, penned each by one of the volume’s editors. Paolo Vitellozzi’s paper examines the evolution of the textuality of magical gems in light of speech act theories and taxonomies elaborated in earlier secondary literature. Vitellozzi also analyses the complex interaction of medium (the gemstone), text and image in the course of this evolutionary process, showing how writing progressively assumed magical efficacy. In the following paper, Christoffer Theis analyses a specific category of magical gems, namely those which represent divinities with multiple heads. Theis’ observations implicitly complement Vitellozzi’s conclusions on the textuality of gemstone amulets. In the final paragraphs of this note, I briefly comment on Christian amulets and isopsephisms.


Tamás, Hajnalka. 2023. “Magical Objects, Magical Writing: Amulets Across the Ages.” Martor 28: 241-245. [DOI:10.57225/martor.2023.28. 18]

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